What are the winter blues?
The "winter blues" is a true medical phenomenon known as season affective disorder. Season affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Symptoms include loss of energy, feeling down or depressed, anxiety, social withdrawal, fatigue, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, loss of energy and loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities. Symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses. Treatment for seasonal affective disorder may include light therapy, medications and counseling. In light therapy, also called phototherapy, you sit a few feet from a specialized light therapy box so that you're exposed to bright light. Light therapy mimics outdoor light and appears to cause a change in brain chemicals linked to mood. Light therapy is the first line treatment for season affective disorder. Medications used to treat seasonal affective disorder are classic antidepressants. You may ask, when to see a doctor? It's normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can't seem to get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is particularly important if you notice that your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless, think about suicide or find yourself turning to alcohol for comfort or relaxation.
Information provided by Carin A. Bejarno, A.R.N.P., Grimes Family Physicians, 101 S.E. Destination Drive, 986-4524.